One of the greatest tragedies in this world are those who fail to find and achieve their purpose or mission in life. This article will help you discover what your mission in life is.
A number of years ago I took my family to ride an old-time train powered by a massive steam engine. Before that train could move, the water temperature in the boiler had to reach two hundred and twelve degrees. Water will not generate steam at two hundred degrees. Even two hundred and ten degrees will not create the steam to move a train. For water to boil and steam to be generated it must reach the temperature of two hundred and twelve degrees. Lukewarm water will not move anything.
I believe the vast majority of people in life are like the train trying to move with lukewarm water – almost boiling but never quite there. They wonder why their life is stalled, why they never seem to be able to move forward. They work hard but success seems to elude them.
The temperature difference between water that is boiling and water that is not is only a degree or two but the difference in results can be dramatic. In the same sense the difference between a person with an overpowering mission in life and someone who is merely living life can seem small but the results are without comparison.
Achievers have an overpowering mission
One of the greatest tragedies in this world are those who fail to find and achieve their purpose or mission in life. The world is full of those whose daily existence is simply working for the weekend, plugging along until retirement or simply wondering whether they are in the right place doing the right thing. They know deep down inside that something is missing, that they are not doing what they do best. We each have only one life to live. How terrible it would be to come to the end of your life and realize you did not live to your fullest God-given potential.
The greatest achievements in this world have all been made by people with an overpowering mission. Like the steam that drives a locomotive, an overpowering mission drives every life of achievement. Think about every person of great accomplishment that you know of. Is it not true that each one had an overpowering mission?
Can you imagine Michael Jordan, Steven Spielberg, Mother Teresa, Christopher Columbus, Thomas Edison, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Mozart, or Henry Ford simply working for retirement, checking off the days on their calendars for when they can sit back and relax and watch TV? Ludicrous to even think about! No, these people were driven like a screaming locomotive. They each had an overpowering mission and there was no stopping them.
“The world always steps aside for people who know where they’re going.”
– Miriam Viola Larsen
What is an overpowering mission in life?
Call it a quest, a calling, a passion, a grand purpose, or a reason for being. A mission in life isn’t something you force on yourself. It is something you discover within. You are born with it. It is coded in your DNA. It flows in your blood and is written in your heart. It is not something that is separate from you. It is as much a part of you as stripes are a part of a zebra. You cannot get away from it. It eats with you, sleeps with you, and goes wherever you are because it is a part of you.
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
– Helen Keller
Once you find your mission your imagination is engaged and you have purpose. You have a reason for getting up in the morning. It fuses your values, beliefs, thoughts and actions into one unified force. It gives you a definition of who you are. Your mission is something that excites you, that drives you. When you are living your mission you look forward to every day. You live life with passion!
“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”
– Albert Einstein
Where does an overpowering mission come from?
I believe the creation of this world was not a mistake or some grand fluke of nature. It was created for a divine purpose. It was created as a place for God to send His children to learn and to grow and to develop their gifts and talents to their fullest. Each of us were sent here with certain things to learn and certain missions to perform. I believe in a Grand Design for everything.
“I cannot believe that God would choose to play dice with the universe.”
– Albert Einstein
It is my belief that each of us has been sent to this earth with a divine mission from God and it is one of the main purposes of life to discover it and pursue it.
Do you have an overpowering mission?
When I was in my late teens I had a good friend named Paul. In fact we roomed together for a while. I liked Paul a lot but there was one thing that really bugged me about him – he knew and had always known that when he grew up he would be a doctor. It never was a question in his mind. The reason it bugged me was the fact that I had no idea at that time what I wanted to do with my life and he did. It just didn’t seem fair.
Looking back I can see I had many clues and signs back then. But I didn’t see them!
Some of us come forth from our mother’s womb knowing our mission and purpose in life. Others of us, like myself, have a long struggle before the light finally turns on and we see clearly what our overpowering mission in life is.
One of the problems many of us face is that we have suppressed and denied for so long the feelings and yearnings inside us that they no longer come with the power and force they once did.
It’s like the puppy that follows the little boy home. The boy wants the puppy in a terrible way but knows his mother will never let him have it. So he tells the puppy to go away but of course it doesn’t. He yells at it but the puppy just keeps happily following him, wagging its little tail. It’s a persistent little puppy that won’t go away no matter what the boy tries. Finally, out of frustration the little boy picks up a rock and throws it at the puppy and with a yelp it runs off. It will be a long time before that puppy tries to follow the boy home again.
Too many of us have chased off our dreams and desires for so long that they rarely come back and if they do, they are timid and weak. That doesn’t mean they aren’t real and they aren’t important. They are still there. It just may take some coaxing to get them to come out again.
How do you discover your overpowering mission?
“Know thyself, and to thine own self be true, then thou canst not be false with any man.”
There are many books and articles written on this subject. One particular book I own devotes over 150 pages with endless exercises and quizzes to help you discover your mission in life. I believe this type of introspection can be helpful but if it takes 150 pages to get you to find your mission in life, is it really an overpowering mission? I think it is much less complicated than that. There should be some rather large clues in your life and that is where you should look.
My own personal experience may be of some help to you. After I got married I began a career in the computer field. How was that chosen? My wife and my mother-in-law sat me down one day and succeeded in persuading me to go in that direction because there was good money to be made in computers. So for nineteen years of my life and over a million lines of computer code later I realized I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing that. But what then did I really want to do?
I began an earnest undertaking of finding out what I really should be doing with my life. A huge advantage I had was that I have kept a personal journal and have written in it nearly every day for the last 26 years of my life. So I began the rather large task of reviewing my journals from the first to the last. Frankly, I was amazed at what I found. I found over forty-three journal entries where I had expressed a deep desire to teach personal achievement, personal improvement, or personal change. My, how many times did that little dog come after me and I shooed him away or ignored him? Let me share one example from my journal, dated many years ago:
I wish I had the time each night to write down all the feelings that I have, but I never seem to have the time. I’ve been wanting to write about some ideas and aspirations I’ve been having lately, so here I go.
I like my job and it pays me very well. But sometimes I get the feeling that I have more to contribute in life besides computer programs. I sit at work each day and look at a little saying in front of my desk. It says, ‘Find out what you do best, then do it.’ I feel like I’m a good programmer and I do a good job at it. But I don’t feel that that is the thing I do best. I truly feel that I have an inborn ability to speak to people, to teach, to motivate, to give presentations to other people. The times when I have had opportunities to do this I have done very well, and most important, I have enjoyed it very much.
But how does one change from being a programmer to someone who teaches, speaks to, and motivates people? And also isn’t there a little vanity involved here? I mean, who am I to come out and say I can do these things and why do I want to do them? For the glory or recognition? I don’t want to be like that but how do you avoid it?
Plus what about my poor wife and her feelings and concerns – especially about family security? Here she thought I was all set and content in a nice career and now I’m thinking about changing. Is she going to think now that I’ll never be content at doing anything?
So, I shooed the puppy away then and every other time he came romping back into my thoughts. But he always came back. Finally I couldn’t deny it any longer. I had to pursue this powerful, overmastering desire; this mission in life.
“While goals are chosen, a purpose is discovered. Our purpose is something we have been doing all along, and will continue to do, regardless of circumstances, until the day we die.”
– Peter McWilliams
I don’t have a magic formula to give you in finding your life’s mission. I will say that it may take some deep thought, some making of lists and some review of your life thus far. For some this will be easy. For others it may take some coaxing to get the puppy to come back. Just be patient. You have the rest of your life ahead of you. You want to get it right!
“The secret of man’s being is not only to live but to have something to live for. Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would not consent to go on living.”
-The Grand Inquisitor in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov
It’s never too late
I have run a number of marathons. Each time I do I am amazed at the number of people who are older than me who not only run marathons but beat me to the finish! I will be running along, thinking I’m doing well and then a short, stubby, seventy-year old woman passes me up! It’s incredible! Life does not end when you turn forty, or sixty or even eighty. The history books are filled with people who have accomplished great things in the latter years of their lives.
I have always liked the saying that goes:
“Did you stop doing the things you did when you were young because you are old or are you old because you stopped doing the things you did when you were young?”
Read that again if you have to. I feel there is much to be learned from that statement. I once listened to a tape by the author Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. On the tape he asked a series questions to get you to think about yourself. One of my favorite questions he asked was this, “If you didn’t know how old you were, if there was no record of your birth, how old would you be?” His point was that the idea of how old you are has more to do with your thinking than with your birth certificate.
Many adults have the impression that once they pass a certain age they can never achieve or accomplish much. They feel their opportunities are lost. I say baloney! Every day that you wake up above ground is a day of opportunity!
The person who discovers or resurrects their overpowering mission late in life should not let age or time or circumstances get in their way. No matter how long they may have been delayed from it by mistakes or missteps, they should make a solemn resolve that they will not leave this life without pursuing and accomplishing their dream.
Clues from God
Our passions, longings and desires that arise from our heart are not just vain imaginations or hopeless dreams. They are the pointers, the clues, the guides to our possibilities. They are the prophecies, predictions, and blueprints of what we may become.
The honeybee doesn’t have an instinct to gather nectar without a real flower to match it; nor has the Creator planted within us yearnings and desires and dreams for a better, fuller, life without the possibility of achieving it. There is a divine reason and purpose behind our genuine desires.
I don’t believe there is anybody anywhere in this world that can be truly happy until they have found their true passion, their true heart’s desire, their overpowering mission in life and then followed and pursued it to the ends of the earth.
Copyright © 2013 Gary N. Larson